Salivary glands

Topic Completed: 1 September 2015

Minor changes: 12 March 2020

Copyright: 2002-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Embryology[TIAB] salivary glands

Sally Tanakchi, M.D.
F. Zahra Aly, M.D., Ph.D.
Page views in 2019: 1,288
Page views in 2020 to date: 1,345
Cite this page: Tanakchi S, Aly FZ. Embryology. website. Accessed September 21st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Parotid gland primordia (anlage) arises in weeks 5 - 6 from ectoderm, followed by submandibular gland primordia in week 6 from endoderm, then sublingual gland primordia in weeks 7 - 8 from endoderm
  • Intraoral minor salivary glands (including von Ebner gland) develop during the third month from endoderm
  • Primordia develop from primitive oral cavity (stomodeum) as buds, which proliferate as cords, form terminal bulbs, develop clefts and further proliferate as branches from original cord; then the process is repeated
  • Lumens form in epithelial cords and progress to terminal bulbs; cells differentiate into various ducts and acini
  • Connective tissue diminishes with maturation
  • Parotid buds may penetrate intraparotid lymph nodes; rare with submandibular or sublingual structures
  • Secretion by the parotid glands via the parotid duct begins at about 18 weeks of gestation, while secretion by the submandibular gland begins at 16 weeks of gestation
Diagrams / tables

AFIP images
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Origin of the parotid gland, submandibular gland and
sublingual gland from the epithelial lining of the
primitive stomodeum is illustrated in the schematic
drawing of the oral cavity of a 9 week old embryo

Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images
Missing Image

Photomicrograph in section through fetal
tongue, linguogingival groove and buccal
mucosa shows the proliferative epithelial
cord of the developing parotid gland (arrow)

Missing Image

Primitive epithelial ducts and tubules
are mostly undifferentiated and within
a very loose but moderately cellular,
fibrous stroma in a 25 week old fetus

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At high magnification, the terminal tubules are a
double layer of epithelial cells; outer layer will
differentiate into myoepithelial and basal cells and
inner cells will become ductal and serous acinar cells

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